Powerful language

Words reflect our thinking, but they also help form and frame thinking as well.

I overheard something for the first time today: referring to the weight loss industry as the "weight-cycling" industry. I'm going to stop giving these financial interests - and they are enormous and cynical to the core - the right to name themselves. I will call the selling of weight loss products and services what they are: weight cycling schemes.


  1. Right, Laura. It's too bad that most people can't figure out how to maintain a weight loss. That's quite a different situation from losing the weight. I have a relative who lost 180 pounds a couple of years ago, reached a healthy weight and has kept it off. She is making a project of figuring out how to maintain - checking for research on the subject, and when not finding much, trying hard to implement her own plans. She is in her 40's and has had a combination of overweight/obese/supermorbidly obese problems for much of her life.

    She has found sports she loves and can do within her bad joint limitations, that involve other people, travel and increasing skill levels. She has her strategies for eating and must be careful all the time. She is loving life, but it isn't easy.

    I liken the situation of overweight/obese people not being able to maintain their loss to those with anorexia who are brought up to a healthy weight but then cannot maintain that weight on their own. They need support that goes way beyond the initial weight/loss/gain eating plan, which is something that the "weight loss cycling" industry is not interested in doing.

  2. I'm the relative Kris mentioned. She summed it up about right, I'd say.

    Over at ikeepitoff.com Russ and I have chatted a lot about why there isn't more support for maintenance. He says it's because the industry hasn't figured out yet how to make money from it. I think he's right.

    In the meantime we're all just doing the best we can, with what we've got. There aren't any other options, except relapse.

  3. I would submit that pursuing health through changing weight is the wrong way around. One's healthiest state may not be thin - it may be large. The constant pursuit of a weight rather than healthful lifestyle actually harms the body and leads to weight gain. I think dieting isn't successful because it ISN'T healthy.

  4. I agree with that, Laura, for the most part, and certainly for "normal" people. I think the situation is quite different for those with mental illness, who are at the extreme ends of the scale.

    There is "large", what I consider myself - BMI around 31, wear extra-large and 1X clothes. I am very comfortable with my body, eat exactly what I want and enjoy it immensely, am physically active and able, and don't give my size a second thought.

    But there are those who are larger, very unhealthily larger, like my relative above, who had a BMI in the 50's. She might not have had too many years left at her super-morbidly obese size and had hurt her body irrevocably because of the extra weight. I believe her BMI currently ranges around 25-26, and she may have a weight number in mind to keep herself in the "healthy" BMI range. She has many of the same problems those with AN have - doesn't have a clue by looking at portions whether they are the right size or not, doesn't have a good sense of satiety, and on and on.

    Now that she is at a "healthy" weight, she is very active and has expanded her life in so many great directions. She white-water kayaks, cycles and loves her life, and wants to continue to stay this body size so that she can "fit into her boat" and keep on doing it. She is using many tools to maintain. But she couldn't have done it by just "pursuing a healthy lifestyle", any more than a person with anorexia nervosa could do so on her own. They need special help, both to get to that designated "healthy" weight range and to learn to maintain themselves there.

  5. "First of all, a boat taking on water isn't going anywhere. You have to get the water out, or you sink."

    100% absolutely correct.

    At 350 lbs and a BMI over 50 I was a boat that was not just taking on water. I was about to sink. They don't call it "super morbid obesity" or "malignant obesity" for nothing. It was going to kill me.

    So in my case it was absolutely the right course to get the water (or fat) out or I was going to sink (die).

    I.E. I had to pursue my health by changing my weight.

  6. A new study in the new England journal of medicine describes long term hormonal changes in those who have lost weight, the hormonal changes may be responsible for the person feeling hungry and having difficulty keeping the weight off over the long haul. This might end up being a partial explanation for the weight cycling that you are describing-dieting may trigger some hormones are geared up to put some of those pounds back on again. Here's a link to the article: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1105816

    It would be interesting to see if these hormones differ in those with eating disorders, this study wasn't related to eating disorders.

    For those that have morbid obesity, losing really is necessary but eating wholesome food and getting regular exercise for health might be more effective in the long run.

  7. We're all in agreement, I believe, but taking it from different angles. I see the weight as a function of health - and that we cannot know what a person's healthy weight is or measure it on a chart. If someone's mental health or lifestyle is not optimal, then of course pursuing health is necessary and may lead to weight change.

    But the changes we are talking about are healthful ones, ones we all ideally want to pursue - as opposed to dieting (weight cycling) where the goal and the measurement of success is weight loss no matter how that affects metabolic or mental health.

    People with poor health, and poor mental health, may not have weight issues as a result but they need to pursue healthful lifestyles too. Many people who on the charts get classified as "overweight" or "obese" may be entirely healthy and would hurt their health by lowering their weight. People who are quite obese because of mental or other medical health issues deserve help with those health issues, regardless of weight.


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